Studies show good health is all important

Glaucoma is the most common cause of irreversible loss of vision in the world. It is an eye condition in which the optic nerve, at the back of the eye, becomes progressively damaged, causing loss of visual field (side vision). In some patients, this is because of a build up of pressure inside the eye. The damaged parts of the nerve and retina lead to permanent patches of visual field loss.

The eye needs a certain amount of pressure to keep the eyeball in shape, so that light rays are focused accurately onto the retina. Some patients may have an eye pressure within normal limits but damage occurs because of other factors such as, a poor blood supply making the optic nerve sensitive even to moderate eye pressure. This is often called normal tension glaucoma and occurs in about 10-20% of glaucoma patients.

In contrast, some people have an increased eye pressure with no ill effect to the optic nerve or visual field. This is known as ocular hypertension and about 10% of these patients can convert to glaucoma over time. If then left untreated the visual field gradually becomes impaired and vision diminishes.

In India, glaucoma is the leading cause of irreversible blindness with at least 12 million people affected and nearly 1.2 million people blind from the disease. More than 90 percent of cases of glaucoma remain undiagnosed in the community. Glaucoma prevalence increases with age.

There are different types of glaucoma. The most common are as follows:

Open angle glaucoma – open angle glaucoma is the most common type of glaucoma. It develops very slowly, and often goes unnoticed. When the drainage tubes in the eye (trabecular meshwork) become slightly blocked, the aqueous cannot drain properly and pressure builds up, causing damage to the optic nerve.

Open angle glaucoma does not cause any pain or discomfort and by the time one notices some blind spots in the periphery of the visual field, substantial damage may have already occurred. It is estimated that 90% of people with glaucoma are undiagnosed. For this reason it is very important to have regular eye tests so that problems can be detected and treated as early as possible. Once you are over 40 years of age you should have an eye test every two years. If you are over 30 years of age and have a close blood relative with glaucoma (parent, sister or brother), you should have regular eye tests.

 Angle closure glaucoma – this occurs when the angle through which the fluid in the eye drains closes altogether. This restricts the drainage of aqueous humor and the pressure in the eye can increase suddenly or slowly.

Diagnosis – There are several tests that your eye doctor will perform to detect glaucoma. They will examine the back of your eyes for any signs of nerve damage, will measure the pressure in your eyes, check your corneal thickness, test the visual fields and do a scan of your optic nerves. Based on the test reports the diagnosis and treatment will be decided.

If the diagnosis is confirmed you will be offered treatment.

The aim of all treatment for glaucoma is to reduce the pressure in your eye. This is

usually achieved with eye drops. When this does not work, laser treatment and surgery may be recommended.

If you already have some loss of vision as a result of glaucoma, treatment will not restore your vision but it will slow down further damage. It is essential that you follow your recommended treatment so that the pressure in your eyes can be reduced. This will help to prevent your eyesight getting worse. Not taking your medicine or attending your clinic appointments put you at higher risk of your eyesight becoming worse.

What should I know about the drops?

The drops are designed to reduce the pressure in the eye. You may be asked to use them

once, twice or more times a day, and it is essential that you follow the instructions you have

been given. Eye drops are the most common form of treatment for glaucoma. Since glaucoma often has no symptoms, people may be tempted to stop taking, or may forget to take their

medication/eye drops. It is important that you follow your treatment plan and appointments,

as recommended by your eye care practitioner.This is because glaucoma is a life-long, often

progressive condition, and appropriate treatment can prevent vision loss. Could you be one of them?

Left untreated, glaucoma can lead to irreversible blindness. Early detection can save sight. Don’t let glaucoma blindside your future. Get tested.

Take this test to find out if you might be at risk.

Do (or did) any of your blood relatives have glaucoma?

Are you aged 50 years or over?

Do you have diabetes?

Do you experience migraines?

Are you very nearsighted or very far sighted?

Have you ever had an eye operation or an eye injury?

Do you have a history of high or low blood pressure?

Have you ever been on a prolonged course of cortisone (steroid) medication?

If you have answered ‘yes’ or ‘unsure’ to one or more of these questions you

may be at a higher risk of developing glaucoma.

Make an appointment with your glaucoma specialist at iRIS eye hospital and get tested today. For more queries call us at our toll free number.


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